Life with a newborn baby is a breeze, said no parent EVER! No matter how prepared or experienced you are are, life with a new baby is HARD WORK. Those first few weeks (hey, even those first few months) can be pretty intense.
Caring for a newborn is time-consuming and draining. There’s little in the way of downtime as you deal with round-the-clock feeds, poonamis and crying spells, visitors and appointments, not to mention your own physical healing. For the first week or so, just getting out of your PJs is a major accomplishment!
And if you thought life was busy with one baby, your definition of “busy” changes dramatically with the addition of subsequent children. Now that I am a mum of four (still kind of freaks me out when I say that) I need to cut corners, multi-task, and prioritise in order to survive. There are a few things that helped save my sanity, particularly in the early weeks. If you’re about to become a mum for the first, second, or third time, here are four things that I found useful.
Ask any mum what the most stressful part about new motherhood is and frequently the answer is going to be around feeding. Whether it’s attachment issues, cracked nipples, cluster feeders or sleepy feeders, breastfeeding can be a stressful experience. And even when you know what you’re doing, the baby may have other ideas. Also, breastfeeding on demand is exhausting. In the early weeks it feels like you do little else but feed like a cow.
One of the best things that I have done since Miss I was born is express a bottle of milk first thing in the morning. There are many benefits of expressing milk – it can help alleviate blocked ducts, engorged boobs, it also helps with milk production and it allows you to have a supply of breastmilk. Having a supply of breastmilk means if you can’t physically feed bubba for whatever reason, you don’t have to use formula (but NASD supports all choices and subscribes to the theory that fed is best).
I use the Spectra S2, which is fantastic and far superior to the hand held pump I have used previously. It is fast, efficient and gentle. I can get 100ml from one breast in less than 10 minutes. And having this EBM helps fosters bonding between Mr. NASD and Miss I. He gives the baby this bottle of expressed breast milk (EBM) during the night, thereby allowing me a longer stretch of sleep. Hooray! Sleep deprivation is akin to torture and this has saved my sanity. You can find more info on the Spectra S2 here.
Lower your standards:
Longtime readers of my blog will know I am a staunch supporter of “good-enough” parenting. I wasn’t always this way. As a first-time mum I was determined to still have a clean house, healthy, home-cooked meals and never ask for help. Well I kicked impossible standards to the curb and it was LIBERATING. The best thing you can do for yourself is to cut yourself some slack in everything from housework to meal prep to parenting. Learn to live with more mess than usual, say no to things that feel too hard, and don’t feel guilty for accepting help or having a nap (if your baby lets you!).
The Ergobaby carrier
Modern life is so busy that a good baby carrier or sling is almost essential for new mums. And there are so many benefits that extend beyond having your hands free to multi-task. Babywearing promotes an intimate connection between parent and baby, and it is hailed as one of the most important factors in the healthy physical, intellectual and social development of infants. It promotes good digestion, which is believed to ease the distressing symptoms of colic and reflux. Unfortunately, I know all too well the hell that colic and reflux can cause.
Miss I has suffered greatly from colic and having her close to me during witching hour (which we all know is many hours) has helped calm and settle her, as well as enabling me to get on with managing the three other kids.
I am using the 360 Bundle of Joy Ergocarrier and it is brilliant! It feels significantly more snug than other carriers I have used previously. The padded shoulders mean I can comfortably wear her for long periods of time, and given she’s a fairly colicky, unsettled baby this has saved my sanity big time. And on those odd times that I decide the house needs a vacuum, I can easily do this with her in it. She actually seems to like the noise of my Dyson! I’ll have a full review on the Ergocarrier soon.
Ask any mum what the second most stressful party about new motherhood is and I bet she’ll say putting dinner on the table. So, when people asked me if there was anything I needed, I said “a meal.” For the first month or so I had a steady supply of meals. Friends were only too happy to prepare dinner, and it meant it was one less thing for me to think about. A lovely friend, and owner of Let Lulu, brought me not one, but six of her tasty meals. Another friend set up a Meal Train for us, which I had never heard of before. mealtrain.com is a free meal calendar tool that makes planning meals among a wide group easy and less stressful. It meant that I didn’t receive three meals on the one day, and friends could select an available date from the online calendar. Genius.
So there you have it. These are just four things that have helped make life with a newborn baby a little easier. Now that she has reached the 12-week milestone, she is becoming more settled and we have found a rhythm that works. A routine is slowly emerging, albeit a “flexible” one.
What have you found useful in the early weeks of new motherhood? Please share your sanity saving tips?
*This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.